Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis' Stirs Cannes: A Visionary Gamble in Modern Cinema

Francis Ford Coppola's latest epic dazzles at Cannes Festival.

by Nouman Rasool
Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis' Stirs Cannes: A Visionary Gamble in Modern Cinema
© Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

At the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, one of the world's most famous and revered directors, Francis Ford Coppola, presented his newest film, "Megalopolis." This self-financed masterpiece, which Coppola nursed for decades, has hit nerves that could only add to the other highlights of this man's illustrious career.

"Megalopolis" was one of the most awaited debuts this year at Cannes. Supposedly, Coppola invested $120 million of his own profits, from selling off a section of his wine-growing estate, in a movie like no other that will be shown in Cannes.

Set in a near-futuristic New York, the film strings a narrative thread around an architect named Cesar, played by Adam Driver, who imagines a harmoniously designed metropolis.

Star-Studded Premiere

Supporting cast members also include an ambition-filled TV journalist portrayed by Aubrey Plaza, a mayor played by Giancarlo Esposito, and a narrator and driver for Cesar played by Laurence Fishburne, while a sour cousin of Cesar's further adds to the melodrama with Shia LaBeouf.

The Cannes premiere was as grand as the movie, with Coppola, in a straw hat and using a leaning cane, walking the red carpet to the classic soundtrack of "The Godfather." Post-screening, the audience response was again a mix of the prolonged applause that characterizes almost every Cannes showing and extended silences filled with reflective murmuring, a sign of how polarizing the film will be.

Some critics—like Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian and Tim Grierson at Screen Daily—wrote off the movie as an overstuffed disaster; others, like Bilge Ebiri at New York Magazine and David Ehrlich at IndieWire, reveled in the bold creativity and twisted storytelling.

David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter summarized it all when he wondered whether it was a work of hubris or a bold, imaginative experiment capturing the chaotic essence of contemporary realities. "Megalopolis" was more than just a film; it was a testament to the man's unending ambition in pushing cinematic boundaries.

The film is dedicated to Coppola's late wife, Eleanor. The film is now seeking distribution and although parts have been secured to release in European territories, IMAX's CEO Richard Gelfond confirmed that Megalopolis is truly best experienced on IMAX screens, which hints at a global rollout promising to show Coppola's filmmaking vision on a large scale.